Heinz-Wilhelm Eck

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 34)

2 ships sunk, total tonnage 9,972 GRT

Born  27 Mar 1916 Hamburg
Died  30 Nov 1945(29)Hamburg, Germany

Heinz-Wilhelm Eck as cadet of Crew 1934


8 Apr 1934 Offiziersanwärter
1 Jul 1935 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jan 1937 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Apr 1937 Leutnant zur See
1 Apr 1939 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Dec 1941 Kapitänleutnant


1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class
1940 Minesweeper War Badge
1940 U-boat War Badge 1939
 Iron Cross 1st Class

U-boat Commands

U-852 15 Jun 1943 3 May 1944   1 patrol (107 days) 

Heinz-Wilhelm Eck was born in Hamburg on March 27 1916, and was raised in Berlin. He joined the Kriegsmarine in April 1943 as part of Crew 34. After completing his training in 1937 he spent five years on minesweepers, commanding one from 1939.

In 1942 he volunteered for the U-boat force and was accepted for training at Pillau on 8 June 1942. His commander-in-training patrol was aboard the famous U-124, commanded by his classmate Johann Mohr, from 28 October 1942 to 21 February 1943.

On June 15 Eck took command of the new type IXD U-852 and put the boat through months of training before leaving from Kiel for the Indian Ocean. Before departure he got a final briefing from experienced commanders like Schnee and Moehle, who warned him that his class of U-boat was among the slowest, heaviest and easiest to hit in the German fleet. He was told to be very careful in the South Atlantic and that wreckage from sunken ships could remain visible to the extensive air cover there for several days after sinkings. That he took these warnings all too seriously was revealed by his behaviour on 13 March 1944, when he ordered the wreckage of the Greek ship Peleus to be machine-gunned after sinking her, despite the fact that some of the survivors of the sinking were floating amongst it. This killed some of those in the water, and was in any case seen to have been unsuccessful in disposing of the wreckage when the boat left to continue patrol.

U-852 was scuttled on the coast of Somalia on 3 May 1944 after running aground during an air attack. The crew was captured the day after by a British landing party. The British retrieved the ship's log (KTB), which Eck had failed to destroy, and from it learned of what became known as the Peleus affair. Eck and his officers were tried as war criminals. Three were sentenced to death, but another two were acquitted and later released.

On 30 Nov. 1945 Heinz-Wilhelm Eck was executed in Hamburg with two of his officers, August Hoffmann and Walter Weispfennig, for his role in the Peleus affair.


Messimer, D. R. (1998) Heinz-Wilhelm Eck: Siegerjustiz and the Peleus Affair

Patrol info for Heinz-Wilhelm Eck

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-852 18 Jan 1944  Kiel  3 May 1944  Sunk  Patrol 1,107 days

Ships hit by Heinz-Wilhelm Eck

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
13 Mar 1944U-852 Peleus4,695gr
1 Apr 1944U-852 Dahomian5,277br

2 ships sunk (9,972 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

About ranks and decorations
Special thanks to Fernando Almeida for data on ranks and decorations.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Silent Hunters

Savas, Theodore P. (editor)

Naval Officers Under Hitler

Rust, Eric C.

Trial of Heinz Eck, August Hoffmann, Walter Weisspfennig, Hans Richard Lenz and Wolfgang Schwender (The Peleus Trial)

Cameron, John (editor)

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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